Researchers discovered that when they gave mice antibiotics during a critical part of early development, the bacteria or microbes in the mice's guts were reprogrammed.
Scientists say disrupting the bacterial makeup of the gastrointestinal tract could affect the way the body's metabolism works. A slow metabolic rate could lead to obesity, because the body doesn't burn calories as quickly.
"We found that when you perturb gut microbes early in life among mice and then stop the antibiotics, the microbes normalize but the effects on host metabolism are permanent," says senior author, Dr. Martin Blaser, director of the NYU Human Microbiome Program, and professor of microbiology at NYU School of Medicine. "This supports the idea of a developmental window in which microbes participate. It's a novel concept, and we're providing direct evidence for it."
The study authors stress that more evidence is needed to determine whether antibiotics could lead to obesity in humans, and that the study results should not keep doctors from prescribing antibiotics to small children when necessary.
Return to News Home